Introduction: Plastic Dress and Matching Purse

Picture of Plastic Dress and Matching Purse

This dress and purse was made with plastic grocery bags.Ask your friends and family to save bags for you, it won't take long to get as many as you need!  It took 40 bags to make the purse and about 200 for the dress. I made it for my daughter to model in the 2009 Santa Fe Recycle Art Trashion Show. We got 3rd place! The blue strips woven through the waist and the top edge of the purse was cut from a pretty blue plastic bag. I lined the dress with 3 old white cotton shirts from the thrift shop.

Step 1: Cutting the Bags Into Strips

Picture of Cutting the Bags Into Strips

Flatten out the bag. cut off the bottom and the handles. Open up the bag and begin cutting a spiral strip about 1-1/2" wide, turning the bag as you go. Keep cutting until you have one long strip. Tie the ends of the strips together, cutting off the excess.Start rolling the strips into a ball. Continue tying strips together until you have 20 or 30 bags cut up. This can be time consuming but I like to cut the bags up while I'm watching TV and, before I know it, I've got a couple dozen bags cut up and rolled into a ball.

Step 2: Begin to Crochet

Picture of Begin to Crochet

You will need to use a large metal crochet hook, I use a size N/15.  It might be a good idea to make a simple rug first, just to get the feel of the plastic. If you pull on the plastic too hard it will break, but once you get the hang of it, it goes pretty fast. This rug is being made with plastic bags from several different stores. I'm using a double crochet stitch, but I think a single crochet stitch would work also, it would just take more time. 

Step 3: Figuring Out Style and Pattern

Picture of Figuring Out Style and Pattern

I have a dress form which really helped, but it's not absolutely necessary. I wanted a fitted top section and a full skirt so I measured my daughter under the arms, all the way around and made a chain stitch that long. I then did a couple rows of double crochet and then added a few extra stitches in the next 3 rows or so to accommodate the bust. I just kept working my way down to the waist skipping a few stitches to make it tighter. From just under the bust to right below the natural waist it is the same amount of stitches in each row. I left the back open so I could put in a zipper. To make the full skirt, I added an extra stitch every 7 or 8 stitches. Every other row I added approximately 20 extra stitches, evenly spaced, and just kept crocheting until it was the length we wanted. The shoulder straps were originally braided but I didn't like the way that looked so I crocheted them. I cut up 3 white cotton shirts from the thrift shop and made a lining for the dress. I hand stitched the lining to the dress and then sewed in the zipper. I found a pretty blue plastic bag and cut it into strips, then wove them in and out around the waist. 

Step 4: Purse

Picture of Purse

Crochet a chain stitch as wide as you want the purse to be. Chain 2 and turn, double crochet all the way across. chain 2 and turn. Repeat until you get the purse as tall as you want. Make another for the back and crochet sides and bottom together. It might be easier just to make it twice as big as you want it and fold it in half at the bottom and then crochet the sides together. I didn't get around to making a lining for my purse but it would probably be a good idea. The straps are braided plastic strips. I added the pom poms to hide the ugly knots where the handles were tied on. 

Step 5: Making It Into a Costume

Picture of Making It Into a Costume

We made several cardboard "Crystals" out of cereal boxes, tied them onto the dress and spray painted the whole thing silver for a UFO Alien Costume Contest in (where else?) Roswell. NM. The award went to a lady eating live crickets. Good times...The dress had the appearance of chain maille. If you plan on spray painting the garment, there's no need to make sure all of the bags are from the same store. 


kf4nxs (author)2012-11-18

This is not one bit Trashy, glad that our youth is learning to recycle and care for our little marble.

Penolopy Bulnick (author)2012-11-11

Oh that looks like so cool! That Recycle Art Trashion Show sounds like a blast!!!

HelenaDaydreamer (author)2016-04-20

Great tutorial and a good looking dress!

Ilovepups101 (author)2013-08-13

Im going to make this because I love creative recycled outfits! Lol

19ribs (author)Ilovepups1012015-08-28

of course u can honey, im really trust with u! she made a dress from a plastic bag, im sure u can make like her with mug glass! im support u, dont hesitate honey.. lol

Ashish_Mishra (author)2014-03-05

Sweet idea,1question, doesn't it sound like a plastic bag does , while moving in it? but awesome idea,at the first glance, I really thought it was 3d printed,but its got a lot more soul than a cad machined dress. God bless.

Yashfa Zafar (author)2013-03-22

Such a brilliant recycling process!

twinkleshine (author)2013-02-17

clever !!

WUVIE (author)2013-01-12

Oh my gosh, this is so cute, and so creative! And you crochet, too?
I'm so envious! Putting it on my list of 'things to learn one day'. :-)

katvanlew (author)WUVIE2013-01-12

Thank you, I learned to crochet when I was young and always have a project going.

wilgubeast (author)2012-11-16

So awesome. Well done. With the SF plastic bag tax, that dress is worth something like $24. Awesome upcycling.

katvanlew (author)wilgubeast2012-11-30

thanks for the nice comment, the thing about being a creative person is experimenting with different materials and sometimes projects don't turn out as well as you'd like them to. sometimes my experiments with "trash" get thrown in the trash, but this one turned out well.

Josehf Murchison (author)2012-11-17

No worry about wine stains on an evening out Eh.
I like the randomness of the colors.

thanks, I am pleased with the way it turned out.

alpinerose (author)2012-11-18

I like knitting better than crochet. Think I will try something in a knit pattern. Should be fun.

katvanlew (author)alpinerose2012-11-30

post pictures when you are done, I would like to see what you make!

tn. (author)2012-11-18


katvanlew (author)tn.2012-11-30

thanks for the nice comment!

capt redd (author)2012-11-21

all new meaning for the term bag lady lol

katvanlew (author)capt redd2012-11-30


elewis03 (author)2012-11-23

You are so talented!

katvanlew (author)elewis032012-11-30

Thank you for the nice comment!

poofrabbit (author)2012-11-29

Congratulations on being a finalist in the fiber arts contest!! Good luck to you!

katvanlew (author)poofrabbit2012-11-30

Thank you, I am thrilled to be a finalist!

emerson.john (author)2012-11-19

Over time the garment will biodegrade due to sunlight. If stored in the dark, like a closet or drawer, that will take a very long time. If left in the sun the process is surprisingly fast. Clever idea!

katvanlew (author)emerson.john2012-11-23

Yes, if you make a rug out of the plastic bags, it's ok to put it outside under a covered porch., do not let it be in direct sunlight for very long.

godbacon (author)2012-11-20

Beautiful job, I would just caution anyone wearing these to be very weary of open flames. Not a good idea to attend barbecues or campfires in one of these.

Dakotamouse (author)2012-11-18

this reminds me of the early 70's when everyones grandma saved bread bags and crocheted rugs. I'll bet you remember those days too!

katvanlew (author)Dakotamouse2012-11-19

that is exactly where I got the idea from! one of my daughters actually made a rug from bread bags several years ago.

sunshiine (author)2012-11-13

My daughter is saving bags to make rugs and handbags. I will share this with her. So pretty! I hope your day shines! Sunshiine

sanjay117 (author)2012-11-13

diffcuilt to decide , which is beautiful/ WEARER OR THE WORN ONE !!!!

wold630 (author)2012-11-12

Very impressive. I love the blue stripe to give the dress character.

About This Instructable




Bio: I have been sewing and crafting for several years, my children are grown so now I have lots of time to be creative. I enjoy ... More »
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